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Notable Shift in Party Identification from 2004 to 2008:
A few days ago, the Pew Research Center released a fascinating report on shifts in party identification among various types of voters. A taste:
  Since 2004, identification with the Democratic Party has increased across all age groups. Four years ago, 47% of all voters identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party, while 44% identified with or leaned toward the GOP. In surveys from October through March, Democrats held a 13-point party identification advantage (51% to 38%).
  Perhaps the most striking change since 2004 has come among voters born between 1956 and 1976 -- the members of Generation X and the later Baby Boomers. People in this age group tended to be more Republican during the 1990s, and the GOP still maintained a slight edge in partisan affiliation among Gen X and the late boomers in 2004 (47% identified with or leaned toward the GOP while 44% described themselves as Democrats or leaned Democratic).
  Currently, 51% of voters in this age group affiliate with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic compared with 39% who describe themselves as Republicans or lean toward the GOP. Thus voters in Gen X and the latter part of the Baby Boom -- the most Republican age cohort four years ago -- now are about as Democratic as are older age groups, the early Baby Boomers and the so-called Silent Generation.
  Still, the youngest voters -- the members of Generation Y, born in 1977 or later -- continue to stand out as the most Democratic age group. The Democrats' identification advantage among Gen Y voters, which was 13 points in 2004 (52% to 39%) has nearly doubled in the current presidential campaign to 24 points. The current generation of young voters, who came of age during the George W. Bush years, is leading the way in giving the Democrats a wide advantage in party identification, just as the previous generation of young people who grew up in the Reagan years -- Generation X -- fueled the Republican surge of the mid-1990's.
Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the link.
taney71:
I thought Generation X was from 1977 to 1990? Can someone please present a clear picture of the Boomer, X, Y, etc. years?
5.1.2008 1:31pm
Hoosier:
taney--I'm an Xer. Or Slacker. Or whatever, I don't care. (See?) And I'm 40.

Roughly:

Boomers: 1946- ~1964-65

Xers: 1965-ish to ??? It gets tricky, but perhaps 1980-ish.

Gen Y or "Millenials": 1980s-on

My rule of thumb for distinguishing between X and Y is "Did you use the internet in college?" If "yes," you are Gen Y. I think this is a menaingful distinction. But it is still kinda rough.
5.1.2008 1:40pm
Loophole1998 (mail):
Baby boom ends in 1964. Generation X follows.
5.1.2008 1:45pm
Kevin Lynch (mail):

My rule of thumb for distinguishing between X and Y is "Did you use the internet in college?" If "yes," you are Gen Y.



I was born in 1974. And I used the internet extensively in college, from Day 1 in 1992. So I don't buy that rule of thumb :-)
5.1.2008 1:57pm
Blue (mail):
Gen X, in the initial formulation by Strauss and Howe, is from 1960 to 1979. The 60-64 cohorts are somewhat problematic to place but they certainly are not full-on Boomers. My wife, 1964, is certainly a Gen Xer and I would argue that Obama's upbringing is much more Gen-Xy than Boomery.
5.1.2008 1:59pm
Kurt Niehaus (mail):
The wiki page is protected... that says something.
the internet thing isn't a bad measure, but it's still a little off. Maybe cell phones are better? My friends who graduated in '98 used it, and that's a birth year of what... '75 or '76? I personally prefer the Gen Y/Millenials starting at '82, because it puts me in an older gen than my wife. I remember a lot of reagan Iran contra, Iran Iraq war, Thomas hearings (because I cared) that my wife doesn't.
so we blame it on the generation gap.

As for the party gap, it is interesting, but it's also useful to remember that a lot of people self identify differntly based on what they think is popular. A pretty useless measure in my book. (well, if I had a book.)
5.1.2008 2:00pm
OrinKerr:
All, If you click on the link and read the Pew report, it has the definitions it is using.
5.1.2008 2:10pm
Northeastern2L:
I think Generation X begins in 1965 and ends in 1977. I really don't think that one should be considered a member of Generation X unless they have at least fleeting impressions of having been alive in the 1970s.

In addition, the concept of a "generation" gets essentially destroyed by extending the dates too much. A person born in 1965 can hardly be said to have grown up in the same world as a person born in 1980, or 1981, or 1982.
5.1.2008 2:19pm
Leopold Stotch:
I was born in 1970 and I didn't use the Internet in college. But Kevin is right: that's not quite the appropiriate distinction. A better question might be something along the lines of, "have you ever written a school paper for grade seven or above without benefit of the Internet for research, because the Internet wasn't in common use among your age group at the time?"

Or better yet, "which was more popular when you were thirteen: Nirvana, or Mötley Crüe?"
5.1.2008 2:29pm
The Unbeliever:
So... does this mean those 20-30% of Democratic voters who'll vote for McCain if their candidate loses the nomination, are actually a larger bloc than previously estimated?
5.1.2008 2:35pm
wooga:

I was born in 1974. And I used the internet extensively in college, from Day 1 in 1992. So I don't buy that rule of thumb


But you probably didn't use the web. And if you did, you probably felt dorky doing so. I think that's the real end cut off for GenX. If it was socially acceptable to talk about 'surfing the web' in college, then you are not GenX. This makes sense, as widespread use of the web and IM as a socially acceptable (and necessary) activity has made a huge difference in behavior patterns. I can't think of a better standard to mark the GenX / GenY divide.

Basically, college class of 99/00 is the cut off, meaning people born in 1977 or 1978 are the border groups between GenX and GenY.
5.1.2008 3:16pm
OrinKerr:
I think that's the real end cut off for GenX. If it was socially acceptable to talk about 'surfing the web' in college, then you are not GenX.

What generation are you in if you didn't go to college?
5.1.2008 3:28pm
Hoosier:
woogfa--You are are a god. Thank you for your help.

Orin--Economically at least, you are Lost Generation.
5.1.2008 3:31pm
Leopold Stotch:
Nobody thinks the Nirvana/Mötley Crüe test has any merit? I'm kinda proud of that. ;)
5.1.2008 3:40pm
Hoosier:
Leopold--No no no no no! Don't get down on yourself. I just saw it.

Actually, it's excellent. I was trying to think of any way that it would not give you the correct result. Hard to do.

Perhaps you would get some unusable answers if that were the question: Asking my wife, who was playing Chopin at that age, about Crue (Sorry, I forget where to stick the umlauts) would yield nothing. And she hates Nirvana, which is the most significant problem in our marriage. To be frank.

BUT--At age 13, for us both, the answer had to be Crue. I was born in the same year as Cobain, so there was no Nirvana then. Even if I can't quite remember Crue's big year(s). (1983?)

So I really like the distinction, and I think it works. Plus it gives us a sort of closure: Crue gave us hair metal; then Cobain killed hair metal; then Cobain killed Cobain.

So there you go.

What's left but to ask if the defining lyric of Gen-X is "I find it's hard, it's hard to find/Oh well, whatever, nevermind" OR "Hey! Wait! I've got a new complaint".

But some things will just have to be left to the historians.
5.1.2008 3:52pm
merevaudevillian:
While studies this like this are interesting, I'm afraid they're not terribly relevant for the general election.

2004: self-ID 51-40 (+9); Kerry 54-45 (+9)
2000: self-ID 49-41 (+8); Gore 48-46 (+2)
1996: self-ID 50-44 (+6); Clinton 53-34-10 (+9/+19)
1992: self-ID 46-47 (-1); Clinton 44-34-21 (-11/+10)

I suppose there can be some correlation (especially in 2004), but really, I think it's highly speculative to say that this "fueled the Republican surge of the mid-1990's."
5.1.2008 4:09pm
Boynton Cousin:
Space Invaders/Atari (Gen X) vs. Super Mario/Nintendo (Gen Y) is another difference to mention; I'd also argue that loving 80s music unironically (esp. U2, the Smiths, and the Cure) signifies something separating the generations as well.
5.1.2008 4:17pm
LM (mail):
I think it was after the 2000 election, when the Republicans took the White House, HOR and Senate for the first time in forever, I heard Grover Norquist on NPR -- yes, I was sipping Chardonnay with my Yoga instructor -- triumphally declaring the end of the Democratic party for at least thirty years (if I recall), if not forever. There's nobody on the domestic political scene I more enjoy seeing proven wrong.
5.1.2008 4:49pm
LM (mail):
OrinKerr:

All, If you click on the link and read the Pew report, it has the definitions it is using.

What generation confuses a comment thread for someplace people are looking for the correct answer?
5.1.2008 4:50pm
Spartacus (www):
I'm sure I'm an Xer, not a boomer or a Yer, but though I was born in '68, I didn't start college until 1993, and got my first email account the next year. Although the internet was embryonic, I was using it to do research as an undergraduate by 1995.

Motley Crue at 13--more like 15 or 16, a clear Xer. Space Invaders, all that. But I guess '68 is easy. '64 as boomer is pretty questionable.
5.1.2008 4:52pm
Spartacus (www):
and p.s.: I still self identify as a R.
5.1.2008 4:52pm
Crunchy Frog:
I've always gone with the Atari/Nintendo cutoff as well.

For the record, I'm solidly in the Atari camp. 1966.
5.1.2008 5:04pm
Spartacus (www):
But the whole Atari/Nintendo thing neglects that early Nintendo system I had back in '83, with a good Donkey Kong mock up that was pretty damn close to the arcade version--yet I'm definitely an Xer
5.1.2008 5:07pm
Leopold Stotch:
The Atari/Nintendo distinction is also good, though I'd personally go with Donkey Kong or Pac-Man rather than Space Invaders. (I was also a closet Missile Command freak, though I rarely admit that. I seem to have been the only one.) But age needs to be factored in somehow; my dad was "Silent Generation" all the way (b. 1944), but in the end he could beat me and all my friends at Donkey Kong.
5.1.2008 5:42pm
Leopold Stotch:
Spartacus, you're an outlier. Sorry.
5.1.2008 5:44pm
Spartacus (www):
Spartacus, you're an outlier. Sorry

Yes, I am aware of that (in most things, actually). But the boomer/X/Y distinction is easy within the standard deviation. it is precisely at the edge that a good test is needed to distinguish, and I don't think the Nintendo thing does it; though I'll admit that my late college attendance is not particulary relevant. Anyway, chronologically, I'm not an outlier, because I am unquestionably Gen X (grew up in the 70s, adolescent in the 80s). So go figger
5.1.2008 5:47pm
Bart (mail):
The problem with generics is that those who self identify as Dems have a wide range of views from liberal to center right of what the Dems are supposed to stand for. When you start putting real people beside the little (r) and (d), then conservative Dems remember why they stopped voting for the party decades ago.

For example, when the Dem polling group the Democracy Corps ran a generic Dem against a generic GOP for President, the Dem won by a landslide. However, when you ran either Obama or Clinton vs. McCain, 12% of those who supported the generic Dem for President supported McCain in real life. The Democracy Corps nicknamed these voters "wanna Dems." In real life, these are old Reagan Dems who haven't seen anyone who have made them wanna vote Dem for a long time.

Since Reagan, the Dems have clung to these generic polls like Charlie Brown clings to the hope that Lucy will not pull the football away at the last minute.

The polling that should be fixating serious Dems is the polling showing that McCain is the first GOP presidential candidate since Reagan 84 who is leading this early before the general election. Generally, the Dems have a big lead in polling this early before the general election, which fades away gradually as people start paying attention and then disappears altogether as the election gets near. McCain has reached the end game polling in April! That should be extremely worrying to Dems, but they are too busy running up to that damn football to care.
5.1.2008 5:51pm
Boynton Cousin:
McCain has reached the end game polling in April! That should be extremely worrying to Dems

What has been normal about this election? One of the parties will have a black man or a woman at the head of the ticket for the first time in history; neither major-party nominee will be from a Confederate state; and any of the three remaining candidates will go from the Senate directly to the presidency, something that hasn't happened since Kennedy.

Anyway, if it makes you feel better, keep on believing that the Republicans will win when the head of the party has the highest disapproval rate in the history of Gallup polling and the party's candidate is resorting to transparently cynical gas-tax pandering to get on the news.
5.1.2008 6:18pm
Alec:
Not that worrisome to this Dem, Bart. Even if Senator McCain wins the GE (and I don't think he will), the Republican Party will endure a truly daunting political nightmare if the Iraq war, and economic sluggishness, is not resolved in the first two years of his office.

There is a clear generational shift with Y, and I am undoubtedly a member of that generation, not X. The shift is something along these lines: 18 in 2000, just in time to vote for Gore, freshman in college on September 11th, used powerpoint in high school, internet since age 13, etc. I was born in 1982, at the beginning of this period, to boomer parents (also another shift: people had decided to wait longer to have children, and had fewer of them).

The real problem (for social conservatives and hawks in the GOP) is that people my age know the GOP through Bush, and they are way, way to the left of the GOP on the signature issues the party used in 2004: Iraq and gay marriage and civil unions. Short term gain, long term cost for the conservative movement. They're damn lucky they didn't choose Romney this year, or their challenges would be insurmountable.
5.1.2008 6:21pm
Leopold Stotch:
I didn't mean that you're an outlier chronologically; I was just referring to your early Nintendo experience.

If you had a Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983, I'm guessing that it must have come from Japan. (The system wasn't released here until late 1985, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia.) Is that right? If so, maybe the solution is to refine the Nintendo/Atari test to include only Nintendos retailed in the U.S.
5.1.2008 6:24pm
Gaius Marius:
The Atari/Nintendo distinction is also good, though I'd personally go with Donkey Kong or Pac-Man rather than Space Invaders. (I was also a closet Missile Command freak, though I rarely admit that. I seem to have been the only one.) But age needs to be factored in somehow; my dad was "Silent Generation" all the way (b. 1944), but in the end he could beat me and all my friends at Donkey Kong.

How could you guys forget about Galaga?!?!
5.1.2008 6:44pm
LM (mail):
Bart,

I hate to say it, but you're right, except about our not being worried. Mostly it's just the newcomers who are care-free. That said, since liberals tend to be more naive, and conservatives overly-suspicious, messages like "your electoral prospects are dimmer than you think" don't have the motivating resonance for Democrats they do for Republicans.
5.1.2008 6:47pm
Boynton Cousin:
Nintendo made miniature versions of arcade games like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. before the NES came out; that must be what Spartacus played. The crash of 1983, which drove Magnavox, Coleco, and Atari from the industry, is the dividing line; following it, kids played the NES, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, etc. To me, it comes down to whether you cared at all about the Fred Savage movie/Super Mario ad "The Wizard."
5.1.2008 6:51pm
LM (mail):

What generation are you in if you didn't go to college?

Generation Cling.
5.1.2008 6:57pm
Spartacus (www):
If you had a Nintendo Entertainment System in 1983, I'm guessing that it must have come from Japan. (The system wasn't released here until late 1985, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia.)

Okay, with a bit more research, I realize/remember that my home Donkey Kong (which was not a mini version, but a home system) was on Colecovision, which licensed DK from Nintendo. So I guess the Nintendo/Atari distinction does work (for me), because I didn't have Nintendo--I didn't get the Atari when I first saw it, and was glad when Colecovisiono came out I'd waited, because Colecovisions versions of arcade games were a lot more "realistic."
5.1.2008 7:06pm
SenatorX (mail):
Missile Command. With the rolly ball that pinched your fingers. I also ruled at Galaga, and Tempest...at the bowling alley.
5.1.2008 11:41pm
kimsch (mail) (www):
I had the Colecovision with Donkey Kong and Xaxxon!. I had over a million points on that sucker.
5.1.2008 11:48pm
Leopold Stotch:
Senator, I'm talking about Missile Command at home on my Atari, with the joystick. No pinched fingers.
5.2.2008 12:56am
Hoosier:
Ack!

I forgot where I was for a moment: This is VC. All this talk of video games had me baffled. Then I remembered: Most VCers of my vintage were nerds in the 80s, right? Good grades. No substances. Didn't go to high school in an unbuttoned flannel workshirt.

This is all foreign to me. While you guys were actually doing things, I was hanging out in friends' basements, hair down to my shoulders, crunching out the chords for "I Wanna Be Sedated."

I bow out of your conversation with one final observation as I go: If I ever get this time-travel thing down, I'm going back to 1983. And when I get there, I'm gonna kick my slacker ass! Anyone wanna help?
5.2.2008 1:07am
LM (mail):
... or you could just leave yourself back there, and send the slacker Hoosier back here. The results may be the same.
5.2.2008 1:48am
hattio1:
Hoosier;
A friend was recently lamenting what a shit he'd been as a teenager and how worried he had made his parents. His comment was if he could go back in time, he'd take over the beating when his parent's arms got tired. I found it hilarious...snorted beer out my nose.
5.2.2008 7:07pm